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August 5, 2011

The summertime is filled with lots of outdoor activities, like music festivals, sports events, pool parties, and barbeques. Having gone to many amazing summer events, I’ve started to notice just how prevalent sponsorships are. It seems to be that it’s hard to go somewhere these days without a company’s brand name plastered all over the place. It got me thinking about just how useful and successful sponsorships are. When does a sponsorship help the event, and when does the sponsorship overtake the event?

I think there is a very fine line between these two questions. Yes, sponsorships can help finance the event and generate publicity, but it’s important to make sure that the sponsorship is mutually beneficial. Both the event and the sponsoring company need to walk away happy. BUT the consumers also need to understand the alignment of the sponsorship if both companies are going to prosper. They must align on their mission, otherwise the sponsorship doesn’t make sense.

For example: It makes sense for McDonald’s to sponsor the Olympic games. They take the Olympic’s goals and align it with their own – “We recognize the power of the Games to reinforce excellence, unity and achievement among people the world over. Our goal is always to bring that spirit to our customers.” While McDonald’s is a major supporter of the games, they do it in a way that doesn’t take away from the main purpose of  the Olympics – friendly, international competition. McDonald’s is an international company that focuses on it’s consumers and their experiences.

On the other hand, many sponsors believe in the event but overpower their message, causing consumers to get confused. Back in June I was fortunate to go to Bonnaroo, a music festical in TN. Throughout my four days, I noticed just how many companies were sponsoring the event. It began to take away from my experience. All I could focus on was the fliers being pushed at me, the employees passing out free samples, and company logos plastered everywhere. To me, the sponsorships were too much. Free samples are awesome but not 50 different samples from different companies.

Sponsoring an event can be tricky, but it can prove beneficial to both the company and the event. Here are a few suggestions I have for companies that want to sponsor events:

  1. Remember why consumers are attending the event in the first place.
  2. Make sure your contribution matches the mission of the event.
  3. Work for the organizers of the event to seamlessly push out your company’s brand.
  4. Be sure to analyze and evaluate your sponsorship at the end of the event.

Sponsorships can help companies expand their reach and influence new audiences. They help gather finances for the organizers so they can put on an interactive and memorable event. But companies need to focus on a consumer’s whole experience.

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